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Made-in-China Ontario flags an 'insult'

NDP's Kormos objects to contract arrangement amid jobs crisis
By Tanya Talaga and Robert Benzie, Toronto Star
March 20, 2009

Queen's Park is in the grips of a flag flap after it was discovered that the venerable Ontario Ensign is being made in China.

The inferior quality flags have New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos (Welland) seeing red at a time when businesses in the provinces are suffering.

"I can't give this flag away in the riding of Welland when so many workers have lost their jobs," Kormos said. "I would have this flag thrown back at me, thrown in my face. It would be an insult for me to give this flag to any community group. This is shameful, embarrassing, pathetic, rude, insulting."

The revelation follows news last week that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. had purchased 22 foreign-made Mercedes-Benzes as casino prizes.

The flag purchasing decision is made by the Legislative Assembly and not Premier Dalton McGuinty's office, said spokesperson Karman Wong, adding, "it's not a decision we support. We make sure that the flags used for the premier's events are manufactured in Ontario."

Flying Colours International, a family-owned Toronto company in business for 99 years, supplied the Legislature with the flags for 12 years. But the company lost the bid for a three-year contract in December 2007, said Edward McLean, of at Flying Colours, which employs 70 to 100 people.

House Speaker Steve Peters, who is responsible for the Legislative Assembly, said he wasn't aware some flags were from China. "Not all the flags sold were made in China," he said in an interview. "The Legislature has ensured the flags we purchase are made in Canada."

MPPs order items through the Legislative Assembly's purchasing arm to be handed out to various community groups.

When Kormos received his new batch of flags this month, he noticed they felt different, were lighter and not as bright as the old ones. He checked the flag and noticed a made-in-China label.

"I will attempt to return these flags and I will be ordering again from Flying Colours International, and I encourage other MPPs to do the same," he said.

The made-in-China flag was $13, compared to about $18 for the Flying Colours flag, Kormos said.

"(MPPs) do not have to purchase their flags from the Legislature," said Peters. "They can purchase from a vendor of their own choice."

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